A new collaborative project between the University of Iowa and Des Moines Area Community College is aiming to increase the number of secondary school mathematics teachers in Iowa from underrepresented communities teaching in high need school districts.
The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Iowa $1,233,606 to support a project being led by leading principal investigator Danny Hong and co-principal investigators Jamaal Young and Maggy Tomova from the UI and Patsy Steffen and Julie Hartzle from Des Moines Area Community College.
Hong and Young are both math education faculty in the UI College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning, and Tomova is a mathematics professor and department chair in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The project, Recruiting and Training Community College and University Students to Become Culturally Responsive and Proficient Mathematics Teachers in Iowa, will provide 25 Robert Noyce Teacher scholarships to students studying mathematics over the five-year period of the grant which began July 1, 2019 and will end June 30, 2024.
Hong explains that historically, African Americans and Hispanic students have not been well represented in secondary mathematics teaching and hopes that through this scholarship grant, they can increase their representation in mathematics education.
The $13,000 Robert Noyce Teacher scholarship is awarded to exceptional science, technology, engineering, and now mathematics students who plan on teaching in a high-need school district after graduation.
The UI College of Education received its first Noyce Scholarship grant in 2016 to increase the number of science teachers in high needs school districts.
“The main purpose of this project is to provide scholarships to both undergraduate and graduate students who would not consider teaching if this [scholarship] wasn’t available to them,” Hong says.
By partnering with Des Moines Area Community College, Hong says that they hope to develop a sustainable pathways program from community college to a university licensure program that will lead to the long-term recruitment of new students into the UI mathematics secondary training program.
The team will be creating new coordinated recruitment strategies to encourage underrepresented students in mathematics courses at Des Moines Area Community College and the UI to consider secondary mathematics teacher careers.
“For the next five years we are hoping to give scholarships to 25 students so that they can consider teaching as their future profession,” Hong says.
The project also aims to provide Noyce scholars with a comprehensive professional development program that develops and improves their pedagogy skills, culturally responsive teaching abilities, and mathematics content knowledge.
Hong says that Noyce scholars will be exposed to teaching opportunities in order to familiarize them with teaching in high-need schools.
“In addition to going to the classes and other opportunities, the Noyce scholars will have summer internships,” Hong says. “The purpose of that is to get them exposed to teaching as much as we can, as early as we can.”
Some of the summer internship opportunities will include working at the UI College of Education’s Belin-Blank Center at their summer camps as well as working at the Science Center of Iowa.
The impact of the project will be assessed using measures of Noyce scholars’ culturally responsive teaching self-efficacy, content knowledge, and perceived preparation for working in high-needs settings. Data collected from the project will be used to refine the recruitment and training activities on the UI and DMACC campuses.
“Hopefully we can recruit and attract people that have not been represented in teaching mathematics,” Hong says.